Use YouTube for Interactive Storytelling

Neil Cicierega’s Haircut (choose-your-own-adventure-song) was three years in the making, but you might say it was worth the wait. The clever upbeat story is inspiring…what other interactive stories could you tell using YouTube?

(Note, the interaction doesn’t work terribly well in the embedded version above. Check out the video on YouTube’s site to choose your own ending.)

Game of the Day: Mummy Wrap

Wrapping people in toilet paper is a youth group standard. Give people an incentive to be creative and “Mummy Wrap” can a fun, interesting way to get a lesson started.

Divide into groups of three or four. Give each group one roll of toilet paper. Have each group wrap one of it’s members like a mummy. Judge the mummies according to style, creativity, neatness. Award valuable cash prizes.

Bible Applications:

Joseph, Moses, Egypt; Lazarus, Jesus, first century burial preparation; Earth stewardship: save the toilet paper and reuse it to clean up after another activity; Body life: each of us has a gift to contribute.

Game of the Day: Human Scavenger Hunt

This is a great all-church game that you can play at potlucks or in the pews, or with any large group. First divide the group into teams – four teams works about right. Next have each group choose a runner. This person will bring objects up to the front.

Game play is simple. You start with a list of odd but plausible items that your group might have. Give each group a time limit to find the item and get it up front. Keep the action snappy – 30 seconds is a good amount of time in a large setting.

When you’ve reached the end of the list total up each group’s “spoils” and the team with the largest take gets a valuable cash prize.

Two thoughts about returning items: either return the item immediately after it has been tallied up front (probably the best approach) or have the owners claim their goods at the end of the event.

Here’s a sample list, have fun making your own (just don’t choose anything that would be embarrassing or incriminating.)

Rubber Band
Paper Clip
Safety Pin
Playing Cards
Picture of a Sweetheart
Paperback Novel
Walking Stick
Licorice Gum
Squirt Gun
1957 Penny
Hacky Sack
Beach Ball
Paper Airplane
Lego Brick

Bonus: make this a regular feature of your group meetings and see what people bring!

[Photo by visualpanic]

Game of the Day: You Go Find It


They say that your attention span is like a muscle – the more you exercise it, the better it gets. Here’s a game that will help your youth group get in shape…or just have a lot of fun.

For this game have everyone sit in a circle close enough to reach your neighbor. Choose one person to be “it,” standing at the center of the circle.

The game starts when “It” closes his eyes and counts to ten. The group begins to pass a small object such as a marble around the circle from hand to hand. “It” tries to catch people in the act of passing the object…but there’s a twist. Other people in the group are pretending to pass the object as well.

If “It” catches someone red-handed with the object then that person becomes “It.” However, if “It” guesses wrong he can delegate his “Itness” to his hapless victim by saying “you go find it.” Here’s where it pays to pay attention. If the person chosen to “go find it” has been alert it should be no problem for her to find the marble. If she finds it, then she doesn’t have to be “It.” If not, she takes her place at the center of the circle.

Game of the Day: Signs

Signs is a great game to play with your youth group whenever you have a few people sitting around without much to do. It’s a basic circle game with one person who gets to be “it.” The object is for the people in the circle to pass a hand signal from person to person without getting caught in the act by the person who is “it.” This may seem like a simple challenge, but it’s a lot trickier, and funnier than you might imagine.

To start off, everyone needs his or her own “sign.” This sign could be a tug of the earlobe, a scratch of the chin or a flash of a peace sign. The simpler the gesture the better – a lot of arm flapping will make you easier to catch.

The play starts with “it” in the center, eyes closed and counting aloud to ten. The last person who was “it” starts the game by catching a neighbor’s eye and flashing that person’s sign. The neighbor accepts the sign by flashing her sign in return. She is now vulnerable to be caught by “it” until she can pass the sign to someone else in the circle, which she does by making that person’s particular gesture. It’s pretty simple and the sneakier you can be, the better.

Once the person who is “it” has counted to ten he can open his eyes and start guessing who has the sign in her possession. There is no penalty for making a wrong guess but it’s not good form to fire off names machine-gun style. The game is more fun when “it” uses deduction, observation and quick ninja-like spins to see what’s going on behind his back.

Say, for example, that Chad is “it.”

As he counts to ten Trudy tugs her ear to pass the sign to Luke. Luke tugs his ear to receive the sign.

Chad opens his eyes facing Luke but doesn’t guess Luke’s name. Luke waits until Chad is looking away and then flashes Susan’s sign – making crossed eyes.

Now Chad is looking straight at Susan. “Do you have the sign?” he says.

“No,” she answers honestly. Susan hadn’t yet “received” the sign from Luke. So Chad, figuring that the sign is behind him, spins and looks straight at Luke.

“Luke, you’ve got the sign!” Chad says. But while his back was turned Susan crosses her eyes, receiving the sign and then points her finger like a gun to pass the sign to Dana.

This game is easier to play than it is to write up. And it’s a lot of fun.

Game of the Day: Odds and Evens

Odd or Even? | Image via Slideshare

Odd or Even? | Image Sarah Tanti via Slideshare

This is a quick little mixer for those times when you have a lot of people who don’t know each other.

Form a circle and have the players count off “Odd” or “Even.” Players should learn the names of the people to their right and to their left.

Pass a ball around the circle while playing music. When the music stops the person holding the ball must introduce the people to her right and left. After the introductions are made, have the Odds move clockwise one person and the Evens move counterclockwise one person (practice this a couple times before starting the game.)

Keep the game going a few rounds until you think a sufficient number of people have been introduced.

To make things more lively you can have the players bat a beach ball back and forth. In this case the last person to touch the ball when the music stops is the person to make the introductions.

How to Lead Great Games

Great leaders are not born, they’re made. Or, maybe more to the point, you can’t expect to lead a great game night without a little preparation and practice.

1) Read through the games ahead of time. Make sure all necessary supplies are prepared and in place at game time.

2) Have a couple of fall-back games prepared in case one of your planned activities falls flat.

3) Understand the rules of the games backwards, forwards and inside-out.

4) Run through the games ahead of time. Make sure you can explain the game quickly, particularly if your group is a little squirrelly.

5) Have an upbeat attitude. Depending on the group you might need to be unnaturally “bubbly” to generate enthusiasm.

6) Keep things moving. If a game doesn’t take off don’t let it die a long slow agonizing death. Kill it and move to another activity.

For some slapstick game pointers check out the 7 Sins of Game Leading.

Wait…I Was There! Tall Tales for Summer Campfires

Summer is here and there’s nothing like telling stories around the campfire. “Wait…I was there!” is a fun way to get everyone into the act of storytelling, spinning a yarn that is fun, vivid and outrageous.

While you can have fun with mutual storytelling in a lot of different settings…including the classroom…the activity is especially fun around a fire. If you’re not close to a beach with fire rings or planning on heading out to a campsite any time soon, set up a portable fire pit (taking outdoor fire pit safety precautions of course) and roast marshmallows.

Start the game by spinning a tall tale. For instance, if the evening is a little chilly you can say “You think this is cold? I remember the summer of ’65. It was so cold that our words froze and fell to the ground before anyone could hear what we said. You had to pick up a person’s words and thaw them out over the fire to hear what anyone said.”

At this point someone might jump in and say “wait! I was there! It was so cold that we had to knit sweaters to keep the polar bears warm.”

If you have younger kids or quiet kids in your youth group you might have to “stir the coals” to get some participation going. In that case make sure your youth leaders are prepared to involve everyone in the story. For instance you might say “And were those polar bears grateful? You bet. They gave us all big hugs and went Mmmmm! Mmmmm! Mmmmm! Can you do that? Hug your neighbor and go Mmmmm! Mmmmm! Mmmmm!”

Once this game gets going it can be hard to stop. Make sure everyone knows that the story is complete when “they all lived happily ever after.” If you’re ready to wind things down you can throw out the prompt – “are they going to live happily ever after?” – and let one of your youth leaders wrap it up.

Free eBook with Outdoor Youth Games

Who doesn’t love “free” when it comes to youth group resources? Grass Stain is a free eBook from Youth Ministry dot com complete with 25 pages of fast, fun games tailored for most youth groups. YMDC wants you to register at their site, and I respect that, but I found it a little difficult to find a download link even after I registered. The easiest place to find the book is by clicking this link.

The book has some games you’ve seen before (Everybody’s It, Peanut Butter Plexiglass) and some that maybe you haven’t (Frozen T-shirt Race). It’s a great resource from some great people.